One Step Closer

IMG_3050Going into the 5th round of chemo, we pre planned 2 separate IV fluid appointments in hopes that maybe we could prevent me from being so miserable. My oncologist also wanted to keep an eye on the rash that I keep developing about 5 days after chemo. Right on schedule, the evening of the 5th day following chemo, I kept waking up with my arms feeling like a had a very bad sunburn, and the next morning, the rash was covering my right arm. My appointment for fluids on Monday also consisted of my oncologist being very confused by the rash, and giving me IV steroids as well as 4 days of oral steroids. Not only did this not help, my arms kept getting worse, much worse than the previous round. Off to the dermatologist I went. He was unsure what exactly the rash was, but thought he would give me 2 weeks of a higher dose of steroids. For those of you who are not aware, steroids are not enjoyable. You’re cranky, hungry, puffy, and its impossible to sleep. But, if it’s going to make me better, its worth it. My rash is getting WORSE. The best way I can explain the pain is for you to imagine what it would feel like to have someone hold a torch to your arms. As miserable as it is, I keep going through each day thinking as positive as I can. If the chemo is destroying my arms the way it is, imagine what it is doing to the cancer in my body! Now, it’s time for my appointment with my oncologist prior to my next chemo. This time our appointment is a week before my 6th chemo instead of the same day. We’re sitting in the exam room like usual, Dr. Mayer walks in laughing (as he has done time and time again, because what else can we do other than laugh at all of the things that are constantly thrown my way?) he sits down and tells me I need to go to the dermatologist today, and get a skin biopsy. He is unsure what is causing my rash, and we need to be sure it is nothing dangerous. Then he completely takes my breath away, and tells me with the rash getting as bad as it is, that we do not need to complete the 6th neo-adjuvant chemo! Wait, what? I’m done with the neo-adjuvant chemo? I don’t have to go through this Hell again? I don’t have to go through the emotional and mental torture for the next week of preparing myself for the pain, for being sick, mouth sores, headaches, rashes, vision changes, and GI issues? But, wait, I do not want to “half ass” this fight. I want to be hit with all of the hard stuff, give me everything, all of it, no matter how hard, so that this will be gone and I can move on with my life. Dr. Mayer talked us through the clinical trails for the chemo I am on, and in fact, most made it through 5 rounds of the chemo, so I was doing pretty good. But, with as bad as the rash is getting, and the compounding side effects of the chemo on my body continuing to get worse, it was time to stop the neo-adjuvant chemo!!! I couldn’t breath right at this point. I DID IT! I made it through this Hell of neo-adjuvant chemo! 5 rounds! I pushed myself, I picked myself up each and everyday, I cheered myself on, and I didn’t give up no matter how hard! I am so damn proud of myself!! I am stronger than I could have ever imagined I could be!! We finish up my appointment, and start to head to the car, and I can’t stop smiling, I jump into my husbands arms, I kiss him a thousand times, and then, I get into the seat next to my husband, and I just cry. I’m crying because I am so happy to be done with this . I’m so proud of everything I have accomplished , and I’m excited to move on to the next step! My husband holds me and tells me how proud he is of the woman I am, how tough I am, how beautiful I am, then kisses me the way he does that fills me to the top with strength, confidence, love, encouragement, and bravery. Then we head downtown to meet with My plastic surgeon. My mastectomy is scheduled for May 18th @ St. Joes. Our appointment is to discuss final details. But first, I want to touch on second opinions. A while back, we met with a plastic surgeon who was very nice, but what he wanted us to do for my surgery was not something I wanted, nor did I feel comfortable with. I thought about my consult with this doctor for several weeks and was unable, no matter how hard I tried, to accept orbe comfortable with his surgical plan for me. So, I did something I’ve never done before, and decided to get a second opinion. I’ve always been someone who is almost “too trusting”, I mean, he’s a doctor, he knows what he’s doing, I need to just trust him, right? Well, in most cases yes, I do just that, but my gut feeling was a little overwhelming on this one. It wasn’t a quiet whisper that I could just tune out, it was the equivalent of a 3 yr old little boy scream. For you momma’s out there, you know it’s close to impossible to ignore a sound like that! Long story short, I made the call, saw another plastics doctor, and I am so glad I did! He is completely on board with what we were hoping for, and we felt so comfortable and connected to him. I no longer am afraid for my upcoming surgery as we fully trust our surgeons. May 18th, I will have my mastectomy, and have expanders placed at the same time. Our appointment was to discuss size and shape of the implants I will eventually have. Because I have to have radiation, I will have my expanders for a little over a year. Let me tell you just how weird it’s been for me to research what breasts I would like to have. We were sent home with “homework” to look up pictures of breasts to find the shape and size that I like. I’d wait until the kids were in bed then sit in the corner of my couch where if the kids came up the stairs they couldn’t see the pictures of boobs on my computer. I would type ” breast implants” or “reconstruction after breast cancer” or “boob job pictures” and many other things to bring up as many pictures of breasts as I could find to look at. After a few hours of sorting through different pictures I saved the ones, or should I say “pairs” that I liked the best. At this point, I took a BIG deep breath, and text my husband something to the effect of “I’m going to send you some pictures of boobs I like. Can you please look at them and tell me which you like the best? And then could you please delete them from your phone, never ever think about them again, and promise me you will love my boobs the best no matter the scars?” I know, ridiculous right? But, I don’t think any of you quiet understand what its like to try to make a decision on breast size, and shape, while you worry about the scars, the pain, and the simple fact that what you would really like is to just keep the breasts you have. But, I can’t do that, because the breasts I have are currently very mean and trying to kill me. You’ll be glad to know that I picked the size and shape I would like, and we are ready for surgery. One other fun fact, we also discussed my nipple options. This is something I don’t really have to completely decide right now, but I did have to decide if I wanted my surgeons to save my right nipple or not. My breast cancer is in my left breast and my surgeon is unable to “save” my left nipple. So, I needed to decide if I wanted my right nipple to be “saved” or if I would like it removed for the symmetry. I decided not to save my right nipple, and that when construction is complete I will have 3d tattooed nipples. I know, I know, sounds crazy. But. Google it. It’s actually really great. I’ve come a long way in my feelings on this upcoming surgery, and I’ve decided its kind of fun to pick out what size and shape, and what kind of nipples, and well, it’s kind of like picking out your perfect car. I get to pick out and design my own boobs! And I’ll tell you this, at the end of all of this, I’ll have the boobs I want!

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